Dog Soldiers
Dir: Neil Marshall
Star: Sean Pertwee, Liam Cunningham, Kevin McKidd, Emma Cleasby
Cert / Year: 15 - R / 2002
Format: DVD R1

A group of British soldiers lead by Sergeant Wells (Sean Pertwee) are on an exercise in the Scottish Highlands pitted against a Special Forces unit. That is until they discover the Special Forces unit butchered, save a badly injured officer, Ryan (Liam Cunningham). It quickly turns out the enemy they are up against are a pack of werewolves, it is a full moon and night is falling. With help from Megan (Emma Cleasby) a passing local they hole up in a local farmhouse. With no transport and limited (and ineffectual) ammunition will they last until morning?

The first time I watched this movie I thought it was laughably bad, however now that have seen it again I would have to say that my first impression might have been a bit harsh. Story wise Dog Soldiers does have a lot going for it. Numerous werewolves vs. the firepower of the British army should make for a rip roaringly cool movie, but like so many great ideas this film suffers from an almost criminal lack of funds. This is where the film ultimately falls down.

The first problem comes from the cheesy script and poor direction. Neil Marshall deserves full credit for concept and story but the dialogue varies from banal to silly. The opening soldier scenes are a prime example of both problems. The speech is bland "round the camp fire scary story" sort of stuff and the camera which zips round like a humming bird just goes to emphasise how nothing is happening. A better director would have scrapped these scenes entirely.

The cast also has its fair share of problems. Sean Pertwee is superb but his character is injured fairly early on and so features little for most of the film. This is a massive mistake as he is the best actor on show by quite some way. Liam Cunningham is fairly good but is never allowed to take his character far enough; he just needs to be more evil. The rest of the cast are almost identically forgettable, consisting as they do of jobbing Casualty extras. Especially bland is the leading man Kevin McKidd who generates a character so uninteresting that is really hard to care a jot about him.

All of this is not helped by the fact that the soldiers just aren't convincing. The way they move and act and the way they handle their weapons (no sniggering) just doesn't look like soldiers. They bunch up while moving, they fail to set up adequate defences, stand with their backs to open windows during an attack. Hell they even whistle like the seven dwarfs while trying to infiltrate enemy lines. No professional soldier would act like this, and it goes to show how this film desperately needed a military advisor.

Sound bad doesn't it, and I haven't even mentioned the unconvincing wolves ( fortunately viewed in glimpses for the most part), or the comical money saving transformation under the table scene. However despite everything I can't help feeling that deep down there is a really good film trying to get out. Some of the set pieces and the action scenes are top quality and really exciting, Sean Pertwee is eminently watchable and the concept is cool. It just needs more money, a better script, a better director, and a quality supporting cast. I'm sure in time this film will gain a cult following, but for me it's not half the film it could (or should) have been.


Six Soldiers. Full Moon. No chance.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Picture 1.85:1 or 4:3 Pretty grain and atrifact ladden
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 or Surround Terrible mix which leaves all but the center channel with little to do.
Features Producers Commentary track
Static Menus with cheesy Stingray-a-like music
Verdict Picture and sound are poor, and there aren't that many extras. The budget of the film mean the extras count is actually quite generous but the mastering of the film is a real let down.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Link Back Top Home